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How meetings can be bad for profits

Poorly organised meetings have a significant impact on revenue. Professionals in the UK, Germany, and the US spend two hours a week in pointless meetings which adds up to 13 days over the course of a year. Many professionals consider two-thirds of the meetings they attend unnecessary. These are the conclusions of The Doodle State of Meetings Report 2019, published earlier this year, which takes a close look at workplace meetings. The report considers their own data and new survey findings from 6,528 professionals in the UK, Germany and the US.

Several billion euros in losses

With more than 30 million users per month, Doodle has in-depth insights into the most common scheduling challenges and solutions. The report is a comprehensive time analysis covering cancelled or unnecessary meetings, inefficiencies in the workplace and discusses preferred meeting methods. According to the report, several billion euros are lost due to ineffective meetings at work. It states that around 45 billion euros are lost in the UK and 65 billion euros in Germany. The global value is estimated at an impressive 481 billion euros. In hours, this means around 25 billion hours lost per year. This is a serious failure in the workplace.

Paul Axtell, author of Meetings Matter, commented in Business Leader on the impact of poorly organised meetings, “The impact of useless meetings also influences employee behaviour. If employees feel that a meeting is of no use to them, they focus on other tasks and do not fully participate in the conversation. Employees will also suffer hidden costs associated with unnecessary or irrelevant meetings, such as taking extra work home and limiting their own personal time. In the short term, this may not be a problem, but over time, employees will pay a heavy price for the extra stress.”


Although technology allows us to attend meetings anywhere in the world, we generally prefer personal meetings. Seventy-six percent of surveyed professionals preferred a face-to face meeting, while other meeting methods performed poorly (conference calls 7%, video calls 5%, instant messaging 4%).

And the reasons why…
Ninety five percent of professionals believe that having a face-to-face meeting is an effective way to build relationships in the workplace. As Steven Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina, and author of The Surprising Science of Meetings, said, “Although technology has made it a lot easier to meet remotely, which is a good thing, personal communication is generally richer and more nuanced. Verbal and non-verbal cues are more easily perceived in person. These additional levels of conversation not only provide a deeper understanding, but can also help deepen relationships, with more empathy, and misunderstandings are avoided. Unlike a virtual meeting, where it’s easier to hide in the background and engage in other tasks, personal meetings are usually more effective and direct.”

What makes a meeting good or bad?

According to respondents of the survey, the secret is in the preparation. An agenda with clear goals, communicated to participants in advance, seems to guarantee the success of the meeting. Individuals are less likely to digress or take breaks as they are already aware of the purpose of the meeting. A good selection of participants and keeping the meeting as brief as possible are other points for a successful meeting. Forty-six percent of respondents believe it is an unnecessary distraction to have people who are not actively involved or not interested, which can ultimately lead to the failure of the meeting.

This study seems to reinforce the idea behind one of the popular trends in the workplace – Stand-Up Meetings. As recent studies show, meetings are generally shorter and clearer as the discomfort of standing for long periods keep the meeting short. Participants generally only speak when they can add value and there is less room for distractions, such as a computer or phone, and are therefore more productive.

We do not know what method will shape the future, but we’re sure meetings will continue to shape everyday life in the office. According to studies cited by The Org: How The Office Really Works, most CEOs gather the information they need to make decisions “through face-to-face conversations,” not through reports or emails.

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